Could Zika virus cause athletes to skip the Olympics?

(ABC News)–The threat to Americans is real. That’s the guidance of the Center for Disease Control when it comes to the Zika virus.

The CDC and the National Institute of Health joined the White House on Monday to ask Congress for $1.8 billion to fight Zika, which is known to spread through mosquitoes, including a type common in the U.S.

“What we are hearing is that we aren’t ready, there is a lot that has to happen before spring and summer comes and mosquitoes start spreading viruses,” said Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News Chief Health and Medical Editor.

$1.4 billion of that money would be used to protect Americans, while $400 million would help combat Zika around the world. In Brazil, the center of the outbreak, many celebrating the first day of the nation’s annual carnival seem undeterred by the threat.

“The atmosphere seems the same as ever,” said Rio de Janeiro citizen Sam Green. “The stuff in the news is a separate thing, really.” That’s a possible preview for August, when Rio will host the Olympic Games. Many athletes say this won’t change their plans.

Health autorities reinforced that despite the growth of Zika, for most, it is just a mild infection. But for pregnant women, it could lead to the profound birth defect called Microephaly, which is why officials want to get ahead of the spread of the virus in the U.S.

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